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Living in a $5k camper renovation: affordable alternative to a tiny house?

This is the story of a 30-foot camper renovation that cost a total of $5,000 to build!

Have you ever considered renovating a travel trailer as an affordable alternative to a newly-built tiny house?

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30-foot camper renovation built for only $5,000

Living in a 30-foot camper renovation built for only 5k 001

Images © @madefreeco

We first become interested in 2016 when we flipped our first camper and traveled around the US for three months.

Living in a 30-foot camper renovation built for only 5k 002

Images © @madefreeco

We currently live full time in a 30ft camper renovation.

Living in a 30-foot camper renovation built for only 5k 003

Images © @madefreeco

Our decision to go full time wasn’t so much about asking ourselves ‘why?’ but ‘why not?’.

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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Avatar Diana
    July 12, 2019, 5:51 pm

    Nice job. Where is the bathroom pics?

    • Avatar Ann
      July 12, 2019, 7:54 pm

      Here are some more pictures they posted elsewhere. I still didn’t see any bathroom, though I did see the kitchen area, which SEEMS to be somewhat in front of the couch?

    • Avatar Ann
      July 12, 2019, 7:57 pm

      Guess I couldn’t put their link in there. Anyway, look above some of those pictures and their link will take you to more pics of it.

    • Avatar Judith M Loebel
      July 12, 2019, 10:17 pm

      We live semi full time in a 36 foot Class A vintage RV. We have full timed in it, right now doing a 3 month adventure w 3 adults, 2 kids. PS— we have a 4 burner stove, two ovens (propane and convection micro) double sink, RV.fridge w seperate top freezer. Solid hand made walnut cabnitry and paneling thruout. Large windows, leather captains chairs in the cab, deisel pusher engine. Queen size bed in rear, with tons of storage, under compartments, a pull out couch. For the kids we use the cab, turn the seats sideways (swivel) and had a plywood piece cut that we covered with a movers blanket, to not snag or rip seats, covered with a folding work out mat . For the other kid we did a blow up mattress on the LR floor. We have carpet in the LR and bedroom, ceramic tile floors in the rest. Corian counters, instead of the absurd booth seating our modelncame with a lovely Corian built in 5’long table w 2 custom chairs.

      We have a huge double cedar lined closet, which we custom fitted with an IKEA. multi drawer cabinet, for better storage, we have added several other storage features to make the areas work for us, particularly me, short and handicapped. We also tow a small VW Passat behind.

      Drawbacks– the bathroom is smaller than I would like BUT the door latches across the hallway to almost double the floor space. I would LOVE about 1 foot more actual bathroom/shower/toilet space, altho it is perfectly functional and has storage that most RV’er’s wish they had.

      And for all of this? We paid slightly more than twice what the posters here spent on “rehab,” and we did not have to rehab a thing! 1993 vintage FORETRAVEL UNIHOME. Find em mostly out West, but we found ours in New Hampshire. There are a LOT of bargains out there, and you can save by using State Parks, the occasional Walmart lot, some truck stops have RV overnight spots, BLM land for boondocking, some Counties have RV parks— most State Parks are around 20-25$ a night, sometimes less if you are Seniors or handicapped, we recently spent $16 a night in Mississippi.

  • Avatar Joanna Chanin
    July 12, 2019, 6:07 pm


  • Avatar Sheila Plourde
    July 12, 2019, 10:49 pm

    This is nice. Looks like a comfortable home. Is pretty inside.

  • July 12, 2019, 11:51 pm

    Consider renting first. https://www.GoRVRentals.com
    Save money with Go RV Rentals.

  • Avatar Leslie Hall
    July 13, 2019, 8:23 pm

    You guys did a beautiful job, clean, cozy and well thought out. Thanks for sharing! BTW, how long is the trailer?

    • Avatar Alex
      July 14, 2019, 12:54 pm

      I believe it’s a 30ft trailer 🙂

  • Avatar Kelly Clarke
    July 13, 2019, 8:37 pm

    Nice. I have a 29 ft travel trailer. Great ideas for when I’m ready to renovate mine. The interior is in great condition when I purchased it used and it had a brand new queen mattress. I’ll just lighten it up and add new flooring and bring in my coffee table.

  • Avatar Kathleen
    July 14, 2019, 4:08 am

    Very impressed. Well done! would love to do the same.

  • Avatar Miranda Mehaffey-Minor
    July 14, 2019, 8:52 am

    Get a solar oven. Some fold down for storage. Now if I could figure out the septic issue, I would be a genius😀

  • Avatar Gale
    July 14, 2019, 7:46 pm

    I wish we knew how much he paid for the original RV before fixing it up.

    • Avatar Alex
      July 18, 2019, 9:45 am

      I always assumed this was the total cost because that’s how she worded it in the interview, but I reached out to confirm and here’s the response I got from them…

      “Yes! The camper we found for an amazing deal on Craigslist 3k then we did the renovations so far for 2k. Seems hard to believe I know! Might come out to 6k soon when we build the deck and finish the bathroom :)”

  • Avatar Colleen
    July 16, 2019, 5:12 am

    Get yourselves a nice big toaster oven. No you can’t cook a turkey, but you can do pretty much everything else. It can be in storage when not in use.

  • Avatar Linda Baker
    July 19, 2019, 11:31 pm

    wondering if you had any problems painting the cabinets/walls – flooring looks like pergo type?

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